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Mandatory elementary-school violin classes are a hit

Mandatory violin classes at an Indiana elementary school teach dedication and self-confidence by partnering  young students with mentors and teachers from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

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Mandatory violin classes at an Indiana elementary school teach dedication and self-confidence by partnering young students with mentors and teachers from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. From left, participants Chris Baugh, Chloe Shook, Danny Nunez and Bimini Showers perform during a violin concert at Fairview Elementary School, April 23, 2012 in Bloomington.

Jeremy Hogan/Bloomington Herald-Times/AP

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Ask Ryan Campbell about his experience playing violin for Fairview Elementary School's String Project, and he'll rattle off his favorite song, how it took him a while to catch on and that he gets nervous before playing for an audience.

But ask Ryan what it takes to be good at playing the violin and the third-grader stops for a while to reflect on his answer.

"You have to believe in yourself," he said.

Ryan is one of more than a dozen third- and fourth-graders who have decided to continue being a part of Fairview's string program and who recently performed in a recital at the school.

The class, which is mandatory for first- and second-graders, began four years ago through a collaboration with the IU Jacobs School of Music, particularly Brenda Brenner, associate professor at IU and director of the program.

This year, 15 third- and fourth-graders chose to continue the program, dedicating one night a week to group lessons and taking private lessons during school.

Kathy Heise, music teacher at Fairview, said as the students continue to learn, their confidence and investment in playing the violin continues to grow.

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